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Telefonieren auf Englisch - Das Telefon: bewältigen oder bewältigt werden

Schlagwörter: Telefonieren auf Englisch, Englisch Telefonieren, Englisch Telephoning, Englisch am Telefon, Telefon Englisch, Anruf Englisch, Anrufe Englisch

No one likes to be interrupted when he is right in the middle of something. Nevertheless, when it comes to getting work done and there's no impending deadline, most people allow themselves to be interrupted right in the middle of everything - repeatedly.

Assume for one moment you have a piece of work to finish. Nothing very interesting, but important just the same. The telephone rings. You've got mail. If you're working at home, the washing machine stops. No one likes wrinkled clothing: that washing must be hung - and in fact, right away. There's no time to lose!

The human tendency to manage time poorly - or rather to manage one's behaviour poorly - is one of the greatest obstacles to being highly efficient on the job. Last month we reviewed approaches that help prevent the e-mail process from swallowing the greater part of your day. This month we turn to what is business's greatest productivity innovation and greatest productivity waster at the same time: the telephone.

Outgoing calls

You can't control when people call you, but you can plan your outgoing calls. If your outgoing-call process consists of picking up the phone whenever it seems to be convenient, you can probably achieve significant improvements in your productivity simply by planning your outgoing calls and developing new call habits. Here are a few tips:

  • Most of us regularly call the same suppliers, colleagues and customers. We know the numbers for the ones we call very often, and the rest we look up in an address book, rolodex or in Outlook. This repeated lookup action wastes more time than you think. Even the most complex telephone system usually has a very easy function for programming in the numbers you regularly dial. Make a list of the top nine numbers you call and program them into your phone's quick-dial function. Be sure to keep a list next to your phone that identifies the quick-dial number for each of these contacts.

  • Ask people with whom you regularly speak when they are usually reachable and note this information in your con¬ tact manager or on your quick-dial list. Don't call people at times when they are probably unavailable. This wastes your time and theirs ( they must listen to your message and call back ).

  • If you don't have any information about someone's availability, try to call be¬ tween 7 and 11. Research has shown that people are more likely to be at their desks in the morning than in the afternoon.

  • Before making a call, write down its main goal, the points you wish to make and the questions you wish to ask. This ensures the call is productive and reduces the need to call back.

  • Be sure to always have paper and pen ready during the call to take notes. Another alternative is to have the customer or supplier record open on your screen so you can enter impor¬ tant information as you speak. In this case, a speakerphone is a very helpful way to keep your hands free and speed things up.

  • If you need to make multiple calls each day and they're predictable, schedule a period of time and make them all at once. Studies show that once someone is on a roll with a calling process, that the calls are likely to go faster and more efficiently and one is less likely to allow interruptions. During this time, shut your office door, disable the Call Waiting feature on your phone, turn off your mobile phone if applicable and disable your e-mail notification function. If you're not using your computer to take notes, turn your screen off to avoid distraction ( but leave your computer on in case you need it ). You can schedule multiple sessions per day for handling calls if need be. Fix these times and stick to them.

  • For calls involving longer conversa¬ tions, consider booking them like appointments. Call your contact and say that you'd like to book a convenient time for the discussion. Say how long you think the conversation should take. Both of you can then plan the call on your calendars. This allows both of you to be completely prepared during the call, which can save a lot of time and make the call go significantly faster.

  • Avoid getting compulsive. If the person you are trying to reach is not there, leave a complete message and state your number twice, slowly, at the end. This significantly reduces the chance that your contact will have to replay your message to get your number - saving him time. Then give your con¬ tact a business day to call back. Don't waste time calling every hour.

Incoming calls

Research performed by AT&T in recent years has shown that up to 60% of all business calls are not as important as the work they interrupt. This means - unless it is your job to accept and handle incoming calls - that if you answer your phone whenever it rings and handle the caller's request on the spot, that you're probably wasting a significant amount of productivity each day. Even though you're not in control of when people call, you can be in control of when you answer. And planning the way you accept incoming calls is key to increasing your overall productivity on the job. At the very least, the time you gain can dramatically reduce on-the-job stress.

Here are a few useful techniques for becoming more efficient at managing incoming calls:

  • Decide if you need to accept incoming calls at all times during the day or not. The same AT&T studies mentioned above revealed that around 75% of all business calls are not time-critical. Unless you're manning an emergency hotline, call centre or other such business function, consider blocking off a specific time or times per day to handle your incoming calls. During this time, you'll listen to any messages you have received, make a master list of the calls you need to return ( see Outgoing calls above) and pick up the phone if it should ring.

  • If some of your calls originate out¬ side the company, always answer the phone with a complete business greeting. Don't take the time to look at your phone display and decide which greeting to use. A complete business greeting could sound like this:
Verion Investments, Matthias Lutz speaking, how can I help you?

  • Think "prioritise" as you listen. Is the issue important enough to interrupt what you're currently doing? If not, explain to the caller that his issue requires more time to address and that you'd like to prepare for the discussion. An alternative would be to say that the current time is not convenient. Even a potential customer will accept this response, when it's clear that you want time to prepare and focus on his needs. Then book a time on your calendar to handle the call.
I'd be happy to help you with that now.

Could I suggest we schedule a dedicated time to discuss your issue/request? This will give me time to review the details and prepare, which will allow us to have a more productive conversation. Would you have time tomorrow?

I'm afraid I'm a bit underwater at the moment with a pressing deadline. Could I call you back this afternoon, perhaps around 3?

I have someone in my office at the moment. Could I call you back in an hour?

Unfortunately I'm scheduled to participate in a series of back-to-back meetings that begins in five minutes. Could we schedule a call for tomorrow morning to discuss your needs/issue/request?

  • Try to keep conversations from falling into chatting or digressing. During the course of a single call, you could easily lose 30 minutes or more of your valuable time discussing nothing of real interest! To stop a time-wasting theme in its tracks, try one of these phrases. Each uses the process of summarising to keep the conversation on track:
So what I hear you saying is that ...

Could we review the key points we've discussed so far?

Would it be fair to summarise our conversation as follows? ...

Unfortunately I need to get off to my next meeting in about 10 minutes. Let's quickly summarise our conversation and wrap things up; then we can pick up where we left off tomorrow. OK?

  • Let your contacts know that commu¬ nication via e-mail is preferred for all issues that are not time critical, and that through e-mail they are likely to get a faster response. Make it clear, however, that for urgent issues the telephone is best.

  • If callers frequently ask the same questions over and over again, and you find yourself searching for the same answer repeatedly, write these questions and answers down and keep them next to the phone. This will help you minimise call time by eliminating the search for information.

  • Listen to your voicemail only at specific times during the day. If the message display on your phone indicates you have messages, ignore the temptation to listen to them until the scheduled time. Focus on the work at hand. When you listen to your messages, de¬ cide which should receive a response via e-mail, which via telephone, and when/if responses are really needed. Then schedule your responses to occur when you have planned time for outgoing calls and e-mails.

  • Avoid mixing your incoming and outgo¬ ing activities. For example, if you've planned time to accept incoming messages and listen to your voicemail, don't write e-mails or make outgoing calls during this time. When you've completed your task, go back to the work you have on your plate. Handle the outgoing communication tasks only when you've scheduled time for them.

The kitchen timer

At home, your oven is very efficient. You set it to 180° and set your timer for 45 minutes, for example, and the recipe clearly states "do not open the oven door while baking or the cake may fall". Opening the door is also inefficient with respect to energy usage.

If you're serious about improving your productivity in the office and reducing stress, follow these steps:

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